Why not a primary?

By Chuck Kajer

The 2006 elections are now part of history. In most cases, there were clear winners, with more than 50 percent of the voters picking the winner.

That was not the case in the New Prague mayor's race, though. With five candidates splitting the votes, Bink Bender was declared the winner with 27.5 percent of the vote.

I don't ever remember five candidates for mayor in my lifetime. In fact, I would guess that half of the mayor's races in my 47 years had only one candidate.

In most elections, including those for our local school board, filing is done in July and if the numbers dictate, a primary election is held in September. That is not the case in New Prague, where the city charter calls for a filing period in September and an election in November.

Not many people win an election getting only 27.5 percent of the vote. It means that more than half of those voting had picked someone else for the office.

The city council should consider a change in the city's charter that would allow for a primary election. That way, if three or more candidates file for mayor, or five or more file for two city council seats, voters will get to choose which candidates would advance to the general election. That way, we can avoid another five-way race for mayor, should there ever be that much interest in the position in the future.

To change the charter, the City Council would have to agree to put the measure to the voters. That would happen either in a general election or, if the council wishes, a special election.

Making the move to holding a primary election might not be the answer to this problem-voters are notorious for staying away from the polls during the primary-but it is something the city should give some thought to.

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